It all started with a mail that read, "your onboarding process starts tomorrow. You will have an orientation and an introduction to the team." Reading this mail gave me an adrenaline boost. Of course, I knew before this mail that I was hired, but I was very eager to start, ready to dive into the latest technologies, building stuff, and creating the next big things. This might sound like a cliche`, but I couldn't sleep that night. I was constantly imagining and recreating scenarios in my mind. It felt awesome and I thought, this is how success feels like.
The next morning, I was glued to my phone constantly waiting for the meeting link. Now mind you, I am also a daydreamer, so I was reliving yesterday's "successes". Finally, I got a notification. It was the meeting link and I froze like a deer in front of headlights. I was not sure of what was bound to happen after I click the link. I impulsively clicked the link anyway.
The meeting was over. It was a normal introductory session and it surely didn't match any of the scenarios I imagined last night. But the important thing about the session was that I was introduced to the technology stack they operated on. Finally, in the end, I was given a list of concepts to learn in Angular. Later that day I spent most of the time learning angular and was excited to implement it in real-world projects. At the end of the day, I got a phone call from our founder...
DISCLAIMER: What happened next was unique for me and might not be the same for everyone on their first day at work. Remember, I was working in a start-up, so I knew the challenges before and was ready to face them. This is by no means to scare any of you.
On the phone call, our founder had explained to me the immediate project that required attention. We were supposed to deliver an initial prototype of a working project to the client in a single day. It was an 'all hands at the deck ' moment where we had an internal hackathon to produce a stable working deliverable by the end.
The next day, our hackathon started at 8:00 AM. I was immediately pushed into a group. Later we discussed how we were going to approach the problem and solve it accurately. As it was my first day at work, I had no idea what they were talking about. That's when panic started to kick in. After the meeting, roles were assigned and I got my first task.
Immediately, I was given access to the codebase and was simply asked to add a widget to an HTML Page.
With a lot of anxiety and a dash of optimism, I decided to view the codebase and decide an approach to solve the task. The moment I opened the codebase, I was dumbfounded with the amount of code and logic in front of me(it was 10 times the amount of code I wrote for my projects). At this moment the panic and anxiousness started to turn into fear.
Fear of not completing the task, fear of inability, fear of FAILURE.
In this state of distress, I was not able to connect the dots. I wasn't thinking clearly. My brain was being shoved with tons and tons of lines of code which I didn't know. This resulted in me forgetting the basics of HTML.
As I go further into the codebase, the fear grew exponentially to a point where I forced myself to shut the system. After this, I went for a walk to calm myself. During this walk, I felt miserable as I was not able to complete even a small task.
After a while, I regained some clarity and went back to the system. I decided to search for some templates online. Although I thought, I'd never opt to do this in my professional career, I decided to do it anyway. This was not how I expected my first day to be. But I was not ready to give up easily.
later that day, I spent almost 7-8 hours on google, stack overflow, W3 Schools, and many more code websites. I also took a lot of help from my teammates. Finally, after going through tons of API documentation, blogs, and comments, I eventually managed to show the expected output to the team.
What started as an exciting day at 8:00 in the morning ended at midnight with a lot of exhaustion(Yeah you read it right, I worked up to 16 hours on my first day and I regret nothing about it.).
My takeaway from all this is that, it's okay to be overwhelmed with all the technical things you see on your first day. It's okay to forget the things you know. It's okay, not understanding anything on your first meet. It's okay to google even small concepts if you are not sure. It's okay to ask for help.
No one expects you to be a perfect developer right on your first day. The things that baffle you on your first day will become easier to grasp after a few weeks. Give yourself some time, and you'll perform better when you are in the right state of mind.
Now I completed 10 days at the company, and am able to process the information thrown at me, navigate my way through the treacherous codebase, and complete at least one small task per day. I am by no means comfortable doing what I am, but now I dare to face new challenges. I am glad of my first day at work and I believe it played a part in making me a better developer.
Right then, this was my scary first day as a developer. Though it is not a typical first day for a beginner, it surely is one to remember.
Share your first day experiences in the comments down below.